Updated: Feb 27
Do you remember the tv show Medium that aired about 15 years ago? Maybe you were a teenager and the Alison DuBois character’s ability to divine the future kept you in thrall. I liked that show too but what I mainly remember is how Alison and her husband Joe would yell over the top of each other when they had a disagreement.
They yelled and yelled at once – then, suddenly, they stopped and came to a workable solution.
Alison: “How can you say that?”
Joe: “I move my lips, I push out air. There’s nothing to it.”
I don’t know which was harder to swallow: psychic powers or a couple that shouts and grimaces one minute then agrees to have a hug the next minute.
Note: Spirituality is a major part of my existence and self care regime. I do separate out spirituality with psychic powers, though. I know that’s just me and you might disagree.
Anyway – disagreements with your significant other. Shouting then agreeing isn’t what happens in my house. How about you? When it comes to grappling with some major negotiations with your partner: Maybe you’ve tried it and it went badly. Or you fear that raising the topic will make things worse. You feel stuck because you really want the matter sorted out but the angry eruptions, cold shoulder and stalemating makes you hesitate to speak.
Look to the future. When this wrinkle in the road of relationships is sorted: what will life look like?
How do you want things to be? If you want more help with household chores, be specific. “I would like you to clean the bathroom on Saturdays/cook dinner 8 days this month/get quotes for fixing the dryer by this time next week.” People commonly change the subject and make their own counterdemands when pushed for an outcome. Don’t let that derail you. Offer to discuss those issues as well – but on another day.
Be aware of your own agenda. Sometimes we begin a negotiation or conversation telling ourselves that we just want the best for the others. We may have overlooked that it’s our own agenda or needs that we want to satisfy. For example: I point out to my husband that he doesn’t follow the children’s bedtime routine that I have found effective. His way seems to excite the children and they don’t settle to sleep as quickly. My expectation is that the bedtime routine follows a certain pattern because I want peace for a couple of hours in the evening and I want the kids to settle down asap to get my quiet time. I haven’t factored in that my husband wants to have his own memories and routines with our children and when he grew up the bedtime routine was an opportunity for connection, telling funny bedtime stories and a bit of raucosity.
Check your assumptions and your emotions: what stories are you telling yourself about the person and situation? What history do you have with that person and how is it colouring your expectations of this upcoming discussion? Just notice those assumptions. That will give you a little distance from them. If you’re feeling creative or generous you might imagine what are some of the other person’s assumptions about you and the situation. They may be clueless that you want to discuss this. They may be unusually stressed or preoccupied. They may have firm views on the topic. What are her/his needs and fears? What solution might she/he propose?
There are no guarantees. Your partner may never truly understand or even want to understand your point of view. Frustrating, but true. We cannot control anyone but ourselves.
Your area of control is your attitude, your choice to remain respectful, interested and solution oriented rather than fascinated with your partner’s limitations as you see them.
Answer this question: do you want to ‘win’ the argument or promote harmony and tolerance in your relationship? Usually you can’t have both.
If you would like to discuss these ideas some more, reach out to me:
By phone for an old fashioned chat: 0492 918 646
By email at email@example.com
You could keep it anonymous and visit the website
Or you could check out my facebook group Working Parent Wins.